Dee Levinson

Home      |      Exhibitions      |      Current Paintings      |      Resume      |      Contact Information

Dee Levinson - Washington DC Area Artist


Local Spotlight: Dee Levinson at Touchstone Gallery

By Ari Post | February 24th, 2016

If artwork in museums signifies a kind of rooted, historical achievement, then the working artist is the seedling from which this history will continue to flower. It is old growth and new growth, working in tandem to create an organic creative ecosystem. The responsibility falls on local artists to make Washington a destination not just for fine art, but for a dynamic culture of the arts.

In keeping pace with this pseudo-thought experiment, the paintings of Dee Levinson occupy a unique place among the creative forces of old and new. On view at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave. NW, through Feb. 28, Levinson’s work is contemporary, fresh and alive, while also recalling a romantic classicism from across the art historical landscape.

Upon first seeing Levinson’s paintings, the idea of “Greco-Nouveau” materialized quite immediately in my mind. Imagine if Alphonse Mucha or Gustav Klimt were to make studies of ancient Greek sculptures: marbled, graceful and stoic figures with a stark, two-toned contrast against dramatic light, enveloped by flowing planes of flat textile and floral patterns. The compositions seem to billow forth from the canvas.

In the best possible way, they are rather like paintings of sculptures, capturing a certain ethos and grandness of the ancient arts in an altogether new light.

And yet there are a range of other aesthetics and influences that Levinson folds into her work. “Le Reina Plata” is a bold portrait of an aged Native American woman, whose face bears a wise, matronly pride as it gazes into the distance. This pose could invariably signify something like the envisioning of new horizons — say, promise for future generations — or a more sober reckoning with her own mortality and place in a vast, beautiful world.

Surely, there is a purpose and a history in this painting. But like a Greek sculpture, this portrait also has the power to transcend historical knowledge with a more universal, inherent beauty. It is at its core a depiction of humanity, imbued and heightened with a historical specificity and distilled into an eternal moment.

Levinson uses this aesthetic vocabulary to build emotional connections and leave distinct impressions with her audience. By turns searching and exploratory, beautiful and moving, bold and delicate, her work is a delight.

It is also work that connects currently with our city's museum offerings. It is hard not to make connections between these paintings and the recent exhibition of Hellenistic bronze sculptures at the National Gallery, “Power and Pathos.”

Colors, Contrasts, and Complements at The Touchstone Gallery


Levinson’s painting “Las Reinas Tres” depicts three crowned female figures, each armored and cloaked in billowing fabric. At their feet sit three lions and two globes, as if to drive the point across that these women tower above us. This piece of artwork was based off a statue Levinson photographed in Spain. Levinson said most of her pieces are based off of statues she photographed while abroad. This explains why it is difficult to nail down the period that Levinson’s collection is based on; her paintings are based on statues from various eras and cultures, the subjects of which range from the Virgin Mary to Buddha and from Greek gods to Victorian women.

John Blee and Dee Levinson’s paintings are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, making them accessible even to those with no knowledge of art. Though some may say that the paintings come off as slightly esoteric, needing to be interpreted and examined for meaning. The artists who created them both assert that the paintings are visual representations of their own experiences. I would encourage any art lover who attends the Touchstone Gallery not to attempt to find the artist’s intended meaning behind each painting, but rather to see each painting for it’s visual beauty and to find personal meaning within each.
This collection will be on display at the Touchstone Gallery, located at 901 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001, till February 28th.